Freshers Week

“Hello, my name’s Lorna and I’m a final year medical student” I confidently announced to my husband Sam whilst checking for the hundredth time I had my stethoscope packed, searching for Sam’s smart work shoes and grabbing as many biros as I could before leaving. “Final year- I must remember that”. Off I went, striding hastily (yes, I was running later than expected) to catch the bus to my first day of my senior medical placement.

I imagine many of you may have had a slightly quieter, more relaxed start to term- perhaps more lie-ins, some sightseeing, making new friends, and all probably with less bodily fluids involved. However I wouldn’t swap mine any day! Term started in July (after a sunny 2 week break!), with helpful clinically orientated lectures and admin sessions- a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, receive a couple of free lunches (this is a big deal at medical school- we barely ever get free lunches!) and take part in the final year photo in front of Queen’s Tower. However, that was very quickly over, and the early mornings and dressing smart soon began.

In final year we rotate around a number of different placements- medicine, surgery, neurology, GP, A&E to name a few. The aim is to help you prepare to be a junior doctor; doing jobs such as writing in patient notes, updating ward lists, bloods, ordering tests, writing drug charts, writing discharge letters and clerking patients.

So off I went with my placement partner, armed with my stethoscope, notebook, ipad and mountain of black biros (these are very hard to keep hold of!) to the ward to ‘meet the team’. This sounds like an easy task, but if many years at medical school has taught me anything, it is that finding your team or medical notes on the wards is anything but simple most of the time.

On our ward there were 2 different medical teams- fortunately the first one we spied from a distance and approached was ours. Unfortunately we approached the male consultant and asked if he was ‘Dr …’ who is actually a female consultant. Then came the dreaded question… “What year are you in?”. “F… ff…final year” my placement partner quietly mumbled. “Great”, our consultant announced, “you should know lots then!” Note to self: remember to read around the subject before starting a placement on it!

Fortunately as the week went on, we slowly grew in confidence, discovered our team were very friendly, met lots of patients and dusted off our clinical medicine knowledge. Although unfortunately we still hadn’t grasped the hospital layout, so were continually asked by porters and patients if we were lost and needed help- a little embarrassing with your stethoscope on… especially when you later have to take blood from the patient who gave you directions!

The highlight, and scariest part of the week was being on call with the new team on ‘Black Wednesday’. This is the first Wednesday in August when the new junior doctors manage the patients alone for the first time. The team were magnificent and did a great job; staying calm and keeping patient’s safe.

However I spent the whole day thinking “This time next year it will be me…”, “What would I do with a patient like that?”, “What am I doing- next year this will be me…”.

Thankfully a chat with some of the new doctors reassured me that I would be fine and that final year would continue to prepare me… watch this space.

Number of pens lost: 3, Number of lives saved: 2 (okay… so not by myself!) Number of free lunches: 1

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